One of the biggest hits for me during the beginning of the pandemic (when I bought way too many games than I really should have) was Roll Player. I had played it once before, was intrigued by it, but never actually got to play it again.
So when we were all locked down and I was looking for stuff to play with the wife, Roll Player jumped out at me for some reason.
And it was a smashing success!
The one thing that was lacking in the game, though, was the fact that once you have this character created, the game ends. It almost seems abrupt.
That’s where the Monsters & Minions expansion comes in.
Designed by Keith Matejka with artwork by JJ Ariosa, Luis Francisco, and Lucas Ribeiro and published by Thunderworks Games, this expansion really adds some meat to the character-building bone.
Using this expansion, players are trying to build up to the goal of using their character to fight an end-game monster. Also, during the game, you can deal with the monster’s minions that will give you an idea of what bonuses you can get when fighting the monster.
You know the most important thing it adds?
A First Player token!!
Ok, maybe not the most important, but the easiest way to remove an annoyance from the base game.
How does the expansion work?
Let’s take a look.
I’m not going to go into how to play Roll Player. If you want that, go see the review.
Let’s go into what the game adds.
The biggest addition to the game is the end-game monster that you are gearing up to fight.
In order to fight it, you will be trying to earn as many battle dice as you can. These are cute little orange dice, cute and orange so they don’t get mixed up with the big, chunky dice from the regular game.
Each monster has a set of Adventure cards, randomly chosen, of three different types. In order, you will get to look at one of these each time you manage to defeat a minion.
How do you defeat a minion?
Instead of buying something from the market, you can instead say you’re going on a hunt to defeat the top card of the minion stack (which will be face up so you know what you’re facing).
You will always get one combat die, but you could get more depending on the minion and what you have. For the Giant Serpent, you get another die for each 2 gold dice on your character board, for example.
You roll all the combat dice you have and compare that to the stats on the bottom of the card.
You may get an experience point cube. You might get a wound. You might get an honour token.
But as long as you hit the gold chalice level, you get to keep the minion as a trophy and look at one of the adventure cards.
In addition to the new monster/minion concept, Roll Players: Monsters & Minions adds “Boost Dice” which have numbers from three to eight instead of one to six.
These can be a great help when filling out your stat rows (or a burden when you realize that you just needed 18 for your Strength and you actually have 19 grrrrrr). It makes the higher numbers a lot easier to get, though. The issue with them when you are playing the game is that they are colorless.
So don’t be putting the Boost die where you needed a red die!
They also won’t help for minions like the one above that need gold dice, for example.
Finally, this expansion adds experience cubes, injuries, and honour tokens (already mentioned above).
Experience cubes can be spent to do a number of things, including rerolling combat dice and even getting more of them! They can also be used to remove an injury and, if you have enough of them, you can take any Attribute action on your character sheet!
Honour and Injury tokens will affect your final dice roll when fighting the monster at the end of the game.
Honour tokens will give +1 to your strength while Injuries will give you -1.
In addition to all that, there are more market cards, character boards, class cards, backstories and alignment cards.
The character boards are a little different than in the base game, though. On these boards, one of your attributes will be -2 and then two other attributes will be +1. This makes things a bit more complex because you have to keep an eye on what your actual value will be at the end of the game even more than you did with the races in the base game.
The new market cards are quite interesting too.
Monsters & Minions adds Scrolls to the market. These scrolls will give you an immediate bonus but then nothing else. However, some minions and other card effects will be based on the number of scrolls you have, so that can be valuable too.
For example, Stoneskin above gets you gold based on where your Alignment token currently is. But then it won’t have any further effect.
Overall, I think Monsters & Minions is almost a must-own expansion if you have Roll Player and enjoy it.
It adds so much to the game and doesn’t really make it any more complicated.
Yes, you have an added choice when it comes to the Market Phase: do I go on a hunt for a minion instead of buying something or discarding a Market card? How many combat dice will I get and what do I need to roll?
But overall, the complexity boost is fairly negligible. Even fighting the final monster and the adventure cards that precede it aren’t really that hard.
I like the new additions, but I also like having more of the same for other stuff as well.
New backstory cards, new classes (basically it gives you another choice when you draw a die for your class, so you have four choices instead of two for each colour).
The Boost Dice are a really cool addition too, sacrificing colour for extra value. Sometimes that’s not a hard exchange to make because you don’t care about the colour. Other times it can be mind-bending.
That being said, if you have nothing but Boost Dice on your character sheet, then the colour issue will probably become prominent.
The expansion also avoids players getting too overpowered for victory points by requiring that the final monster be a different colour than all of the other players.
If anybody is one of the red classes, then you won’t be facing a Dragon. This is so that you have to spread out in looking for colours of dice on your character sheet. If you’re a red class, you are looking for red dice anyway. Making the monster red would just be overkill.
There really aren’t any major faults with the expansion, other than the fact that it makes the 2-player colored-dice issue even worse.
The expansion comes with one new die of each colour and then 11 Boost dice.
Thus, instead of 73 dice in the bag, you’re looking at 91 dice.
In a 2-player game, you’re not going to come close to using all of them, which means it’s very possible that you won’t see many dice of your colour come out.
I didn’t mind that too much, but it’s something to be aware of.
The other minor issue (and again, it’s really minor) is that unless you play horribly, there’s really no way that you’re not going to get maximum points out of the final monster. Thus, while it’s cool to actually have something to do with this character you’ve created, it’s a bit anti-climactic.
Overall, though, I love Roll Player: Monsters & Minions and I definitely encourage anybody who likes the base game to buy it.
It makes the base game so much better.
Especially with the new First Player token.
This review was written after 3 plays of the expansion